Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Wall Street bonuses 'jumped 17% in 2009'

Wall Street sign
The average Wall Street bonus was more than $120,000

Cash bonuses for Wall Street bankers rose by 17% to $20.3bn (£13.2bn) in 2009, figures have shown.

The data, from the New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, also said that profits at the firms could be in excess of $55bn for last year.

Mr DiNapoli added that the payouts were a "bitter pill" and "hard to comprehend" for American taxpayers who had bailed out Wall Street firms.

The total does not include bonuses taken in stock options instead of cash.

"Wall Street is vital to New York's economy, and the dollars generated by the industry help the state's bottom line," said Mr DiNapoli.

But he acknowledged that while bonuses were well below the level paid in 2007 and were more closely tied to company performance, it was inevitable that many would consider them excessive.

"For most Americans, these huge bonuses are a bitter pill and hard to comprehend," Mr DiNapoli said.

"Taxpayers bailed them out, and now they're back making money while many New York families are still struggling to make ends meet."

The average taxable bonus on Wall Street rose to $123,850 in 2009.

Those paid at three of New York's biggest investment banks - Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley - rose by 31%, according to the Comptroller's report.

Last month, President Barack Obama said that multi-billion dollar bonuses taken by Wall Street bankers were "shameful" while taxpayers bailed out their industry.

The president said their actions "were the height of irresponsibility".

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